Child abuse reports in families with sudden infant death syndrome

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1998 Mar;19(1):57-62. doi: 10.1097/00000433-199803000-00010.


This study investigates the relation between sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) cases and reports to public child protection service (CPS) agencies of suspected child abuse or neglect prior to the sudden deaths. SIDS data were collected from the Ventura County Medical Examiner's death investigation records of 1981 through 1995. Names of deceased infants, their parents, and any other caretakers who might have been with the infant near the time of death were submitted to the county CPS, where they were referenced for reports of abuse or neglect. A control population of non-SIDS infants and their caretakers were checked in a similar manner. The 150 infants from the control group were compared with 157 SIDS infants; no significant statistical difference was found between groups in the incidence or type of CPS referrals. These findings suggest that screening CPS records for previous referrals is an ineffective method by which to detect infanticides misdiagnosed as SIDS and may cast unwarranted suspicion on otherwise typical SIDS cases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • California / epidemiology
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Advocacy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Family Health
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infanticide*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sudden Infant Death / epidemiology*
  • Sudden Infant Death / etiology